By Marlys Kruger
It seems like this column seems to get written a lot less often than in the first four years I worked for The Messenger. As I begin my fifth year, I am still wrapping up spring sports as several of our local baseball and softball players are still earning awards while college athletes from the area have wrapped up their sports’ seasons.
Colfax and Elk Mound sent several athletes to the state track meet this spring and three Colfax girls now have the distinct honor of being members of three state tournament teams in three different sports this year. Brittany Rothbauer, Dannielle Dachel and Dempsey Fogarty all ran at the state cross country meet last fall, played on the basketball team that went to Green Bay and along with Ryleigh Prochnow, took home a fifth place medal in track in the 4 X 800 relay in La Crosse. A few more girls competed in two state meets for the Vikings including Prochnow and Hannah Hover for basketball and track, Mallie Doucette in cross country and basketball and Heidi Lieffort in cross country and track. For the boys, graduating seniors Michael Larson, Matthew Almquist, Lachlan Hinwood and Garrett Miller all ran at state in two sports in both cross country and track.
Elk Mound’s large group of track and field athletes were pretty successful this spring as the boys won the Dunn-St. Croix Conference and Division 2 regional titles. Getting athletes to state through the sectional is always a tough task and the 4 X 200 relay team did make it with seniors Jordan Klemp, Ryan Bridges and Andrew Zabel, anchored by freshman phenom Jonah Bauer who also ran in the 100 m race. Nate Mack saved his best high jump of his four year career for the conference meet placing third at 6-02, a height which would have gotten him to state if he could have reached it again at the regional and sectional meet. For the girls, Andie Friberg, after playing softball as a freshman, found her niche as a pole vaulter and sprinter and competed at state as a sophomore and junior in the vaulting event but after soaring to a school record 9-06 in the regional meet, couldn’t match that height at sectionals which would have gotten her back to the big show.
Several Elk Mound baseball players were named to the Wisconsin Baseball Coaches Association teams including Hunter Dicus honorable mention All State and first team All District as a utility player, Nate Spehle second team All District as a pitcher and Garett Phillips, second team All District as a utility player. With 10 players graduating from the Elk Mound team that won the conference and regional, it was a disappointing loss for them as they ended the season at the sectional tournament in Osseo, losing to Osseo-Fairchild in a game played in a steady rain. O-F went on to win the sectional and lost their first game at state. Last year, the Mounders lost the regional final to number one state ranked Prescott who went on to win the Division 3 state tournament, and when this group of players were sophomores, they lost a sectional final game against Grantsburg on an extremely hot and humid day. I guess there was just no happy medium weather wise or opponent wise for Elk Mound during tournament play.
The Colfax baseball team finished with a record above .500 in the short season due to rain and snow, and with five of the top six batting averages on the team coming from underclassmen, things should be looking up for the team next year. While most of the players are on the Black Sox team this summer, two time All Conference player Nate Leibfried is a member of an Eau Claire Legion team.
Mallie Doucette of Colfax along with Elk Mound softball players Maddy Polden, Becca Kopp and Katie Bergh were named to the first team of the Wisconsin Fastpitch Softball Coaches Association Western All District team. The Vikings Sam Simonson was named honorable mention for the team. Although Pepin-Alma won the conference title for the third straight year, the Mounder girls won the regional title the past two, knocking out the Vikings along the way both times. They reached the sectional final both seasons and with seven seniors this year, they were looking to avenge a loss to Grantsburg last year. In what turned out to be head coach Kari Kallio’s last game, the Mounders fell short of a state berth again. Kallio submitted her resignation as head coach at the last school board meeting and she leaves the program after leading the team 10 years with a 123-82 record, a conference championship in 2006 and five regional championships. She was chosen to coach for the WFSCA All Star game in 2007.
The Colfax softball team has shown steady improvement the last few years and lost just one senior from this years team that lost the regional final to Elk Mound. Although they were down in numbers with 12 or so girls out for the team, most of them are playing in the Seymour League this summer with hopes of improving their skills for next year.
The weather didn’t allow a lot of practice time on the course for the Colfax golfers this spring and with a couple of seniors deciding not to play, it made for a young team. Junior Whitney DeMoe represented Colfax at the sectional meet and was one of just a a handful of girls competing.
It sounds like Elk Mound may be keeping me even busier next spring as the school board will be voting on whether to add a golf team of their own. It would be nice to have another team in the conference to compete against.
Some further notes: Apparently there are some changes in basketball divisions for next year with Elk Mound moving up to D3 with their increase in school population. The Mounders will go into the southern sectional bracket according to boys’ coach Chris Hahn and will face teams like Durand, Aquinas, Altoona and Prescott to name a few. At least Colfax and Elk Mound won’t be knocking each other out of the tournament for a year anyway!
It’s great to see the four ball fields in Colfax and the three in Elk Mound getting plenty of use from teams at the T-Ball level all the way up to high school. Last week, whistles could be heard on the football field in Colfax as the team participated in the summer practices they are allowed to have with the coaches. And with kids of all ages attending camps, playing in leagues and competing in tournaments in several sports, they (along with parents) are kept plenty busy as they prepare for the upcoming year in sports. And the fall season is only a month away!